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Ron Paul shares the political wealth with like-minded candidates

Section: Daily Dispatches

By Jonathan Allen
Congressional Quarterly, Washington
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ron Paul is starting to give like-minded candidates a taste of the political gold he discovered on the Internet by lending his endorsement and renting out his donor list.

A previously little-known Texas congressman with a libertarian bent, Paul had raised $32 million for his quixotic bid for the Republican presidential nomination through the end of January, a figure that dwarfed the totals of several Democratic and Republican candidates who began the race with much higher profiles.

He created an online sensation with his platform of limited government, expansive individual liberties and withdrawal from Iraq and international organizations. More than $6 million came into his coffers on a single day in December through a "moneybomb" Internet fundraising effort.

That haul of cash has not translated into victory in primaries or caucuses, but it has built a political base for Paul -- and, perhaps more important, a donor list -- that would be the envy of any incumbent or challenger. (Paul, by the way, faces a primary challenger of his own in Texas on Tuesday).

Murray Sabrin, a New Jersey Senate candidate who has been endorsed by Paul, is expecting a "moneybomb" from his own backers and Paul's this Friday. Sabrin has raised $194,260 since launching his campaign last month, according to a calculator on his Web site.

"We're working hard to cultivate his previous donors and Murray's previous donors and donors across the country," said Sabrin consultant Adam Alonso.

Republican Rep. Walter B. Jones, a fellow Iraq war critic who faces a tough primary challenge in North Carolina's coastal 3rd District, has rented access to Paul's list of donors in the state.

But Paul's imprimatur was not limited to the list itself: He sent out an e-mail soliciting help for Jones last week.

Jones said he already has raised about $5,000 from Paul supporters, which is not an insubstantial figure in a relatively inexpensive market. Jones had raised $192,185 through the end of December, and his rival for the Republican nomination, Joe McLaughlin, had collected $78,278.

Paul says lending a hand to his friends is old hat but acknowledges it's a bigger hat these days.

"I’ve been helping people for a long time. Nothing new about it," he said during a brief interview in the Capitol on Tuesday. "The degree might be different but the principle's the same."

Paul's presidential spokesman said the campaign is still in the process of figuring out how best to make full use of its massive list of campaign donors.

"A likely use would be to help candidates for office who are running on a constitutionalist platform," Jesse Benton said. "It will go to a good use."

Though Paul is winding down his presidential bid as he focuses on winning re-election -- he also has rented his donor list to his own congressional campaign -- he wants to have an impact on the direction of his party.

One way to do that is to aid the campaigns of colleagues and congressional challengers who share his outlook on politics.

"We put together a movement and that movement is going to continue," Benton said.

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